GetOut! Explore our lesser-known State Parks

It’s the last weekend of summer, but on the trail it’s beginning to feel like fall. And that means many of the trails we love year-round are getting lots of love from the seasonally infatuated. 

Many trails — but not all.

Finding the trails less traveled was the focus of our first Lunch with GetHiking! gathering at noon today. If you missed it, you can catch it in reruns here.

While we won’t spoil the entire half-hour session, we will share one aspect: a quick look at some of the State Parks that tend to attract less attention. We highlight four of those parks with guided hikes being held this weekend. Do the hike, then do a little additional exploring on your own — we’ll share a quick thought on what else to explore.

Jones Lake’s Bay Trail

Cedar Loop Hike/World Cleanup Day, Saturday, 10 a.m., Jones Lake State Park, Elizabethtown. A park ranger leads a hike on the mile-long Cedar Loop Trail; the ranger tells you about the bay forest and sand ridge communities you’re passing through, while you pick up any trash along the way as part of World Cleanup Day. Learn more and sign up here. 

Make it a day: Hike the 4-mile Bay Trail that circles the park’s namesake Carolina bay (which you’ll likely learn about on the ranger-led hike).

Coleman Trail Hike, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Merchants Millpond State Park, Gatesville. A 2-mile, ranger-led hike through a coastal forest that includes encounters with the park’s 760-acre millpond, which is home to bald cypress and tupelo. A good opportunity to learn about forests at the coast. Learn more and sign up here.

Make it a day: On the north side of the millpond hike the recently expanded Lassiter Trail, a fast 6 miles that takes you deeper into the woods.

3 Mile History Hike, Sunday, 5 p.m., Carvers Creek State Park, Spring Lake. This hike has a little of everything, from the nature of a pine savannah to a millpond (pictured above), to remnants of the James Stillman Rockefeller farm that remains largely in tact. Bring water, bring a camera. Learn more and sign up here.

Make it a day: Make the short drive to the park’s Sandhills section for 10 miles of hiking through pine savannah. 

Photo courtesy

Harvest Moon Night Hike, Sunday, 7 p.m., Hammocks Beach State Park. Under the pert-near-full Harvest Moon hike the half-mile Live Oak Trail, as the natural world’s day shift gives way to the evening crew. Learn more and sign up here.

Make it a day: Arrive early and hike the other three trails at the Visitor Center (totaling 2 miles).

Good options that make for a great weekend.

GetOut! And enjoy!

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